Every year, for the last 31 years, Project Censored has been compiling a list of the major stories that the American media have ‘ignored, misreported or poorly covered”.
Story No. 8 on a list of 10 concerns India. This is the verbatim excerpt.
8. KIA: THE NEOLIBERAL INVASION OF INDIA
A March 2006 pact under which the United States agreed to supply nuclear fuel to India for the production of electric power also included a less-publicized corollary—the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture.
While it’s purportedly a deal to assist Indian farmers and liberalize trade, critics say the initiative is destroying India’s local agrarian economy by encouraging the use of genetically modified seeds, which in turn is creating a new market for pesticides and driving up the overall cost of producing crops.
The deal provides a captive customer base for genetically modified seed maker Monsanto and a market for cheap goods to supply Wal-Mart, whose plans for 500 stores in the country could wipe out the livelihoods of 14 million small vendors.
Monsanto’s hybrid Bt cotton has already edged out local strains, and India is currently suffering an infestation of mealy bugs, which have proven immune to the pesticides the chemical companies have made available. Additionally, the sowing of crops has shifted from the traditional to the trade friendly. Farmers accustomed to cultivating mustard, a sacred local crop, are now producing soy, a plant foreign to India.
Though many farmers are seeing the folly of these deals, it’s often too late. Suicide has become a popular final act of opposition to what’s occurring in their country.
Vandana Shiva, who for 10 years has been studying the effects of bad trade deals on India, has published a report titled Seeds of Suicide, which recounts the deaths of more than 28,000 farmers who killed themselves in despair over the debts brought on them by binding agreements ultimately favoring corporations.
Hope comes in the form of a growing cadre of farmers hip to the flawed deals. They’ve organized into local sanghams, 72 of which now exist as small community networks that save and share seeds, skills, and assistance during the good times of harvest and the hard times of crop failure.
Sources: “Vandana Shiva on Farmer Suicides, the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, Wal-Mart in India,” Democracy Now!, Dec. 13, 2006; “Genetically Modified Seeds: Women in India take on Monsanto,” Arun Shrivastava, Global Research (Web site of Montreal’s Center for Global Research), Oct. 9, 2006
Read the full story: Censored! , The runners-up
Also read: Sheep, mutton, fish, Karnataka & Maharashtra
Wow! 500 Wal-Marts in India? Wal-Mart offers better working conditions than the best kirana/pottikadai/grocer in India. The real reason why these petty traders are agitating againt organised retail is that the only way they manage to make money is by treating their employees like dirt. As the Subhiksha founder chairman correctly puts it, what kind of employment does the tradtional Indian retail sector provide? The most exploitative kind of conditions; a half-clad minor who misses school because his drunken or debt ridden parents have no alternative but to have him employed. The unorganised retail sector in India must be dismantled. let big bucks of the Reliance and Mittal variety flow into this sector. The US and Canada employing 2% of their workforce in agriculture grow enough to feed their own citizens and enough more to feed millions. India emplys 60% of its workforce in agriculture and yet agriculture accounts for barely 20% of India’s GDP. What a shame! Vandana keep hollering, you are entertaining.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, especially when it comes to the world food supply.
From a July 1, 2007 article in the New York Times (‘A Challenge to Gene Theory, a Tougher Look at Biotech’ – Denise Caruso):
“Evidence of a networked genome shatters the scientific basis for virtually every official risk assessment of today’s commercial biotech products, from genetically engineered crops to pharmaceuticals.”
So it goes. As science evolves, so do its conclusions. What is safe today may be found to be highly hazardous tomorrow.
Better safe than sorry – stick to traditional, natural plant breeding techniques.
Reads like a direct lift from ‘Planet India’ by Mira Kamdar.
It is quite difficult to counter an irrational logic. But let me try. I have said this before – I am a farmer. The question I would post to vandhana shiva is why did farmers switch to Pvt Co seeds?
I will give you a simple example of tomato, a well known veggie/fruit for notorious price movements. There are 101 variety of tomatoes but consumer preferences dont go by variety but on colour, shape and quality of the skin (i.e. hybrids). The Industry prefers hybrids for shelf life and pulp yield. Faced with this problem, which one should I grow? Hence I buy from Namdhari Seeds.
The local variety tastes better (try using it for thili saaru) but Indian consumers are not connoisseurs of food. Ever wondered why everyone prefers BT rice?
The issues surrounding genetically modified crops is pretty serious. BT cotton may be resistent to Bole Worms that infect regular cotton. But what happens once they become immune to BT cotton?
Genetically modifying eatables have had disastrous effects in the past. What happened when they tried to cultivate genetically modified river trout so that the new species looks appealing? They all died of a rare skin cancer. There are plenty of such examples. When they offer a BT variety of rice or mustard how does one know that the BT organism used for genetically modifying them is also from a vegetarian source?
Monsanto or an Aventis would lead you to believe that genetically modified crops are the only way to drive up food production to meet future demand. That has more to do with their own existence as corporate entities than anything else.